John Bartlett, who is running for congress representing the 11th District, discussed his campaign and his plans for the future of the 11th District over coffee. Candidate Bartlett offered and we accepted his invitation to discuss his plans on the record over coffee at Starbucks in Upper Montclair, NJ.
Passaic County Freeholder John Bartlett is clearly on friendly territory in Montclair. At a Starbucks this week we are interrupted every so often by residents who want to wish him a good day. Mr. Bartlett attributes this to the fact that he’s a regular here, and he likes to make conversation with the people he meets, especially to learn about their opinions and ideas of how to better the district. Mr. Bartlett uses his campaign of “30 Coffees in 30 Days”, where he visits coffee shops throughout the district to talk with and listen to the constituents over coffee, to do just that.
A representative who listens to constituents would be a welcome change for Montclair. That’s because Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen has avoided in-person town hall meetings for the past four years. It’s one of many things Mr. Bartlett says needs to change. To those who fear change, and argue that Congressman Frelinghuysen’s seniority is not something to be disregarded, Mr. Bartlett says this: “If the Congressman wants to say his seniority is helping, then how? Look at the votes he’s casting.”
He points to specific votes, “in July to eliminate Title X…to spend $1.6 billion for the President’s border wall boondoggle, and on another day to cut research and development in alternative energy” as not representing the beliefs of his constituents.
Mr. Bartlett wants to do more than just replace the current Congressman. He has specific positive changes he would like to see implemented in Montclair. One area in which Mr. Bartlett is interested is infrastructure and transportation. “The issue of transportation and infrastructure as a driver for economic growth,” he said. “The quality of roads is essential for local manufacturers that need to get their goods to marketing and all of us that need to get to work.”
He references a project near Montclair State University, on one “of the most dangerous highway interchanges in the state” as evidence of his personal commitment. “In order for a town to thrive, it needs to stay ahead of [its] needs, instead of falling behind them.” He says construction work to make the interchange safer (work he says “was supposed to break ground in 2006 and be finished by 2011”) was delayed time after time until his own intervention.
Mr. Bartlett is not alone in challenging Congressman Frelinghuysen. In recent months, several democrats have announced their candidacies. Were he to succeed in this run, Mr. Bartlett would be accomplishing something not done in decades: The Eleventh District has been won by a Republican every election since 1984.